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14 killed as mortars hit Afghan market

Updated July 07, 2019

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Several Taliban shells hit the market on Friday morning in the Khwaja Sabz Posh district of Faryab province, according to Hanif Rezaee, an Afghan army spokesman. — AFP/File
Several Taliban shells hit the market on Friday morning in the Khwaja Sabz Posh district of Faryab province, according to Hanif Rezaee, an Afghan army spokesman. — AFP/File

KABUL: At least 14 people were killed and several more wounded when a busy market in northern Afghanistan was hit by mortar fire, officials said on Saturday.

Several Taliban shells hit the market on Friday morning in the Khwaja Sabz Posh district of Faryab province, according to Hanif Rezaee, an Afghan army spokesman.

“Fourteen civilians were killed and 40 — including women and children — were wounded,” Rezaee said.

He said the Taliban had been trying to hit an army checkpoint near the market. The insurgent group did not immediately comment.

Naem Musamim, Faryab’s public health director, said 14 bodies and 39 wounded people including four children had been taken to local hospitals. Some victims with critical injuries were airlifted to hospitals in Mazar-i-Sharif in Balkh province.

Ghazni mosque blast

Also on Friday, a bomb detonated inside a mosque in Ghazni city in central Afghanistan, killing two worshippers and wounding 20 more, according to Ghazni governor spokesman Aref Noori.

Baz Mohammad Hemat, the director of Ghazni hospital, said that one of those killed and 14 of the wounded were children.

Friday is Afghanistan’s day off and many children attend mosque for prayers on the day of worship.

The militant Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate, which has a growing footprint in the country, claimed responsibility.

The extremists have conducted frequent prior attacks on Shia targets.

While Afghanistan is a mainly Sunni country, it has a sizeable Shia minority, mainly represented by the Hazara community.

The deadly incidents come as the war between the Taliban and Afghan security forces rages on, even as Taliban officials are meeting with US negotiators in Doha in a bid to bring about an end to the conflict.

An agreement with the Taliban is expected to have two main points — a US withdrawal from Afghanistan and a commitment by the militants not to provide a base for terrorists, the main reason for the US invasion nearly 18 years ago.Ghazni provincial governor’s spokesman Arif Noori said an explosive devise detonated during evening prayers on Friday when the mosque was full. Eight of the injured were children.

The IS claim said 40 worshippers were killed or wounded.

President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday condemned the attack, slammed the perpetrators as terrorists and said such acts are against Islam.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2019